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Kashmir, the paradise on earth is known all over the world not only for its natural beauty in the form of lakes, springs, mountains, meadows, etc. but also for the handicrafts prepared by the Kashmiri artisans. Among the handicraft items, the shawls have maintained the state of popularity among customers, both domestic and foreigners from centuries. The word Shawl has been derived from a Persian word “Shal”. It originally denoted a class of woven fabric rather than a particular article of dress. In Persia, Shawl was being worn on a girdle, but in India it is usually carried across the shoulder. Although, Shawl prepared from any material, anywhere in the world have got their own identity but those prepared in Kashmir are different from all. These Shawls are known all over the world for the way they are being prepared right from sorting of raw material to finishing of final product. This shawl making is a skill over which Kashmiri artisans have expertise themselves over the generation.
Shawl is being prepared from almost all sorts of material like wool, silk, angora wool, Pashmina, etc. Among all these materials, Shawl prepared from pashmina is most attractive, soft and elegant. The raw material used for Pashmina shawls is a king of fibers known as Pashmina. It has derived its name from Persian word “Pashm” meaning a soft gold. It is known for its fineness, warmth, softness, desirable aesthetic value, and timelessness in fashion. It is the most luxurious fiber and command higher price among all natural fiber. It has occupied a unique position among all the fiber of animal origin, because of its warmth, lightness, handle and its ability to absorb dyes and moisture.
Pashmina is a down fiber or under coat derived from goat known as “Changthangi”, a breed of goat inhabiting the plateaus in Tibet and neighbouring areas of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir, India. The traditional methods of processing, involving dusting, de-hairing, combing, spinning, finishing, etc. have given these Kashmiri Shawls a special importance all over the world.